29th April 2014
One Balcombe villager spoke in support of Cuadrilla’s planning application to test the viability of its oil exploration well when it came before councillors this morning.
Rodney Jago, who said he had lived in Balcombe for 20 years, urged West Sussex County Council’s planning committee to approve the application. To groans from the public gallery he said last year’s drilling operation had caused no damage to the environment.
It had caused less disturbance than house building or loft conversions, he said. “Had it not been for protesters, residents would not have noticed”. Mr Jago said he lived in the centre of Balcombe and despite having his windows open at night he heard nothing from the exploration site when it was drilling the well. “People who did must have been using microphones or sleeping on the grass verges”, he said.
He accused opponents of being “selfish” in their desire to avoid what he described as “minor disturbance”.
He said the testing work that Cuadrilla was applying to do would be “almost unnoticeable”. If the well went into production, he added, there would be even less disturbance, with just a couple of tankers a week.
Mr Jago said the country needed the royalties, taxes and jobs that oil exploration would bring. “If we want to provide work for young people and improve our health and welfare services we cannot burden our economy with renewable energy at three times the price.”
The committee overwhelmingly approved the application for flow testing, a flare and site restoration. Only one member of the committee voted against.